This past Sunday morning, Bentley Keelan-Pelligrino was reunited with his brother Linus Slater, each of whom came to New York City via Puerto Rico, but were adopted out to separate families.
The happy reunion took place on West 73rd Street at Camp Canine: Bentley and Linus are Beagle-Chihuahua mixes, rescued by Animal Lighthouse Rescue (ALR).
Bentley, named for his one bent ear, and clad in a neck tie (“for special occasions only”) was adopted almost a year ago by Victoria Keelan and Louis Pelligrino. “He’s been amazing,” Keelan said. “We meant to only foster him, but after only two days, we fell in love and adopted him.”
Laura Slater became Linus’ forever guardian also a year ago. “He has brought joy to our lives,” she says.
About four years ago, Julie Sinaw was inspired to start ALR after seeing “stacks and stacks” of dogs at Puerto Rico’s only no-kill shelter paired with the knowledge that some 200,000 strays known as satos (slang for “stray” in Puerto Rico) roam free. “Puerto Rico has a 95 to 98 percent kill rate in its municipal shelters, and I thought, ‘What if I just take one dog home?’” Following a quick adoption, her next trip returned two dogs, and ALR grew from there.
Mello, a Black Labrador –Pit bull-boxer-mix, who spent much of the morning running up and down the doggie play ramp, was adopted by Allie Ceccola and Kevin Migliore in December. “I would not change it for the world… It’s always great coming home as he’s always so happy to see us,” Migliore says.
Tania Isenstein has owned and operated Camp Canine, a dog boarding, daycare, and grooming spot, since 2012. Calling the dogs rescued from Puerto Rico, “the sweetest,” Isenstein and Camp Canine have fostered, cared for, and socialized over 100 dogs who are now in loving homes in the New York area. Isenstein, herself, adopted three-year-old Nacho about 18 months ago. “I wasn’t intending to adopt, but fell in love,” she recalls of her furry friend who was picked up as a stray in a parking lot in Puerto Rico.
Jay Stein came to the reunion with his four-year-old ALR-adopted dog, Tamale. Stein is a rabbi in Westchester, and takes his dog to the synagogue almost every day. “The congregation loves her and on the rare day she’s not with me, everyone asks, ‘Where’s Tamale?’”
A pair of black lab-mix brothers, Finn and Ajax, happily reunited for the second time since each found permanent families in Jersey City and Murry Hill, respectively. Amy Deipolyi brings Ajax “everywhere” and calls herself a “crazy dog lady.”
Along with the morning dog-friendly party, there was also a human-centric nighttime event that featured a silent auction. The auction and morning raffle helped raise about $25,000 for ALR.
Isenstein considered her first reunion party a success and hopes to make it an annual event “for fun and to raise awareness and funds.”
Sinaw could barely contain her emotions after seeing well over 40 of her dogs at the morning reunion party, “I’ve cried three times already,” she said. “All of these dogs were just a few days from death and now they are all happy.”